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  John Glover Cougher

 The Knights of Labor (off-site).
 Pennsylvania MILITIA OF 1862.

Historical Excerpt
William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas
published in 1883 by A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL.


  The Knights of Labor, a social, political and beneficial secret order, have an assembly in this city, known as the Argo Assembly, No. 2,005. It was organized June 21,1882, and it now has a membership or over seventy. It is composed of wage-workers, producers and businessmen and women. The officers are: J. G. Cougher, M. W. Frank Donnelly, W. T.; Edwin Berg, Secretary; W. O. Henderson, Treasurer; O. T. Angell, Financial Secretary.

more at Kansas Collection Books

Historical Excerpt
Kansas Historical Quarterly
May, 1936 (vol. 5, no. 2, pages 191 to 207, by Dorothy Leibengood

Labor Problems ...

THE year 1886 was a period of great labor unrest in Kansas as well as the United States as a whole. It saw the inauguration of many unsuccessful strikes, boycotts, and agitations by the Knights of Labor, which marked the beginning of the decline of that order.
  On the night of March 21 masked men drove the engineer and watchmen out of the Central Branch round house and armed men stood guard over them while the gang damaged as many as twenty-three engines. [42] The strikers denied any knowledge of the affair. [43]
By March 30 the situation apparently began to improve at Atchison. ... But on the night of March 31 a mob of at least one hundred masked men visited the Central Branch machine shops and proceeded to make a total wreck of all the costly machinery in that building. [45] The Knights of Labor of Atchison hastened to pass a resolution condemning these acts of violence. [46] By April 3 the strike was over at Atchison, the Missouri Pacific Co. having reemployed forty or fifty of its former workmen. [47]
43. J. T. Cougher to John A. Martin, March 26, 1886, C. K. G., Martin (Official).

more at the Kansas Collection

John Glover Cougher was born 15 September 1838 in Pennsylvania to George W. Cougher and Caroline Matilda Glover. John attended schools in Perry Co, Pennsylvania probably in Landisburg and definitely in Petersburg. His most prominent early job was as a plasterer. In fact, he was found as a plasterer in the 1860 census in Louisville, Jefferson Co, Kentucky living in a boarding house; in 1870 Pittsburg; and in 1880 Slogo, Pennsylvania. During this early period he also shows up in city directories listed as a clerk and a boiler. Later--1900 and 1910 census--he taught school and appears to have had his own school in 1910 Kansas City. The 1905 directory lists him as a teacher of "Essenology." I may be wrong in the association, but the Essenes appear to be an ancient Jewish Christian sect who had rather monk-like practices. Essenology appears to be associated with religious practice, which makes his 1914 obituary all the more interesting; take a look at the obituary below.

John was a very colorful and eccentric character. Our first insight to his character comes from notes taken in an interview1 with Edith (Comfort) Sundean, John's granddaughter. Edith indicates John was divorced, a hypnotist and "founder of Liberal Party". Research shows he indeed had several wives and was a founding member of The Knights of Labor, an early libery party of the times (see side bar).

John holds the dubious honor of having had five wives.
He married (1) Eliza Sanders Matthews on 27 April 1865. She appears to have died in the birth of their 4th child, Eliza "Lidie". He married our Comfort progenitor (2) Clara Buehl Bet. 1873 - 1880, who is said to have been the nursemaid of little Eliza who lived less than two months. He married (3) Anna E. Morris 06 November 1889 in Jefferson Co, Kansas. He married (4) Belle C. ? Abt. 1891. And lastly (we think) he married (5) Cora E. ? Abt. 1905. After being married for about 10 to 15 years, Clara and John where divorced. It is said that John left Clara and the girls (Alice, Laura, Grace) to fend for themselves2.

For a very short time, John was engaged in the Civil War for the Union army. He enlisted on 15 Sep 1862 and mustered out 28 Sep 1862 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He was a private in the Emergency Troops, Company F, 15th Infantry Regiment Pennsylvania ("Militia of 1862") and was commended for Distinguished Service, Union army, Unit Number 2151. This troop was formed by a call to the Pennsylvania public to arm, since the Reserve Corps were wearily enaged elsewhere and the rebel army was heading northward after its triumph in the second battle of Bull Run. (see side bar link for an interesting description of the Pennsylvania MILITIA OF 1862.) John's brother, Charles Holmes Cougher, had a much long tour of duty in the Civil War. He was wounded in battle at Salem Heights, 3/4 May 1863 Fredericksburg, Virginia and died of his wounds.

It is questionable that John G. Cougher lived in Liberal, Kansas as Edith (Comfort) Sundean noted: He "Moved to Liberal, KN." Perhaps Edith confused this with the fact that he was a founding member of a "liberal" organization.1 After some additional research, we now know that he died in Kanas City and was buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Kansas City, Kansas, Dec. 19th, 1914 without a gravestone.3

Kansas City Star, October 31, 1997

Rowdy times in Kansas City

  Because it happened the day Jesse James was shot dead in St. Joseph [killed on 3 April 1882], the lynching of Levi Harrington was relegated to the back pages of local newspapers. The press later reported that Harrington was just a bystander the night Officer Jones died.
. . .
Among the many sensational crimes of the early 1880s, the lynching wasn't even the story of the week. But tragedies like it triggered pockets of protests, cries for civility.

"I hand you herewith one dollar for the relief of the destitute family of Levi Harrington," wrote a plasterer named J.G. Cougher, a white man, in a letter to The Evening Star.

The newspaper itself, established two years earlier, took the lead in calling for crackdowns on saloons, prostitution and "our inefficient police." Sarah Coates and other civic figures, mostly women, formed voluntary associations to feed abandoned families and shelter orphans. The Humane Society launched a campaign to house the "thirty or forty bootblacks and newsboys (who) slept nightly in the board of trade building, huddling about the steam heater to keep from freezing." Decades later, even the madam Chambers found religion. Moved to tears by a funeral sermon given by the Rev. David Bulkley, the elderly Chambers deeded her old brothel to Bulkley's cause, the City Union Mission. The religious organization used it for years to shelter homeless women.
. . .
more at The Star Millennium site
San Antonio Light,Texas, 1914 Dec 20, pg 8 of 46


"Professor" Cougher Dies and Is Buried Without Ceremony

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Dec. 19.— Because he had no faith in prayers and did not believe in the existence of a Divine Being, John Cougher of Kansas City, Kans., was buried this afternoon without ceremonies. His body was taken from the Butler Undertaking rooms and deposited in a grave.
Cougher was known as "Professor" Cougher to his Kansas City, Kans., acquaintances because he professed to have the power of divining the presence of precious metals and oils in the earth.
"Professor" Cougher was 77 years oId and boasted of the fact that he was an infidel.
1 Interview: Sundean (Comfort), Edith, David Willis Williams' genealogy binder.
2 Interview: Nadeau Family Stories contributed & relayed by Frances Miller, 2003
3 Cemetery: KS, Wyandotte Co, Kansas City, Mt. Hope Cemetery, (Index), Grave: 6, Lot: 1, Sec: 28, Funeral Director: Butler.
Copyright 2003-2010 Stephen D. Williams. All rights reserved.